Following the recommendation of the presidential panel that investigated contracts awarded to 300 companies and individuals by the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested a cousin and confidant to the former president, Mr Azibaola Robert and his colleague, Dakoru Atukpa, the Executive Director (Projects) of Katakar Civil Engineering Company, for collecting money from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
President Muhammadu Buhari had set up the panel to investigate all contracts awarded by the Jonathan Administration from 2011 to 2015. The committee’s investigation made far-reaching recommendations, including refunds of money, further investigation, among others.
The duo, the Nigerian Tribune gathered, were arrested by the commission on March 23, 2016 for alleged diversion of public funds through Oneplus Holdings, a sister company of ex-President’s cousin’s other company, Kakatar Construction and Engineering Company Limited.
It was gathered that One-plus Holdings was paid $40million by the detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retd), for oil pipelines security contract.
The commission, it was further gathered, had obtained a remand order from a court of law to enable it keep the duo in custody.
Meanwhile, the lawyer to Robert, a social activist, human rights lawyer-turned entrepreneur and Atukpa, Gordy Uche (SAN), has accused the anti-corruption agency of embarking on a vendetta mission against former President Jonathan.
According to a statement made available to the Nigerian Tribune on Wednesday, in Abuja, by the Senior Advocate, Robert was being persecuted by the commission as a result of his relationship with Jonathan, saying that, “My client is being persecuted and punished because of his DNA, as a relative of Dr Goodluck Jonathan.”
Uche challenged the commission to either charge his clients to court or release them on bail, saying that their arrest had generated controversy between lawyers to Roberts and that of the EFCC over who should refund money to who.
The lawyer stated that the Federal Government was still owing his client $4million being balance of the contract sum for successfully securing oil pipelines, which he said saw Nigeria reaping billions of US dollars from increased oil production.
According to him, the ONSA was shirking in its responsibility for the outstanding payment of $4million due to his client as honorarium for an assignment, which he (Robert) helped the Federal Government execute and for which the government reaped immensely billions in dollars in return.
Uche added that the anti-graft commission was insisting that One-plus Holdings should show proof of work done, including receipts of payments made to third parties from the proceeds of the said contract, or in the alternative refund the $40million to government coffers.
“It is for this reason that Robert and Atukpa have been held captive and locked up incommunicado by the EFCC for over two weeks,” he stated, maintaining that the issue in dispute between his client and the EFCC “is purely a civil matter which should have been addressed as such.”
According to the Senior Advocate, “it is impunity and breach of their fundamental human rights. We have a civil dispute and then you turn around to lock up the party with whom you have a dispute. Then, you go ahead to give him impossible bail conditions: Two federal serving directors each with properties in Maitama or Asokoro and original of their Certificate of Occupancy; the four directors are also required to present bail bonds of N250million each from reputable bank. Robert and Atukpa are also required to deposit their international passports.
“Which serving director in Nigeria today has property in Asokoro or Maitama districts and can boast of N250million? It’s like saying bring the bones of your grandmother alive before we grant you bail.
“The annoying thing is that while we were working to fulfil the bail conditions the EFCC went to court and obtained a remand order, which means that the commission never intended to grant them bail in the first place.”
culled from www.tribuneonlineng.com